Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Walkability, Again

A large amount of emphasis has been placed in recent years on reversing decades of catering to the automobile.  The focus has shifted instead to the simple act of walking.  Although this change in culture does not correlate with economic vibrancy (economically vibrant cities in Texas are not generally known for walkability), the cultural transformation does tend to create cities that feel more vibrant.

As previously seen, Rochester is doing reasonably well in this regard.  Walk Score identified Rochester as the 22nd most walkable city among 108 cities with populations over 200,000.  Among mid-sized cities (those with populations between 200,000 and 300,000), Rochester was the 6th most walkable.  It has also been recognized as one of the most affordable walkable cities.

Here is yet more data that highlights Rochester's friendliness to pedestrians.  The following list identifies the 10 safest large metropolitan areas (populations over 1 million) for pedestrians, as measured by a low rate of vehicle-related pedestrian fatalities.  While this list is not a source of pride per se, it does indicate that Rochester has the bones to be that compact, lively city that seems to be in demand:

  1. Boston, MA
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. New York, NY
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Minneapolis, MN
  7. Portland, OR
  8. Chicago, IL
  9. Rochester, NY
  10. Cleveland, OH


  1. Filling in a portion of the inner loop will also improve the walkability of that area and make a nice connection between downtown and the east end helping us climb higher on these types of lists.

  2. The relatively small size of our downtown will hopefully make redevelopment down there take off that much quicker. As someone who follows those things fairly closely, I really think Rochester is on the edge of something special as all these planned projects fall into place. There are few areas of the downtown core that aren't planned to be touched and once a "critical mass" of residents is hit, it will be very interesting to see where downtown goes next.

  3. The compact nature of downtown is definitely an asset when it comes to revitalization, and I think the feel today is already far superior to five years ago. If all goes well (and the chances seem better each day), downtown can be remarkably vibrant.